First glimpse at fall and winter weather outlook

July 2017 is reported to have been the warmest or nearly the warmest July on record

Here I am in beautiful Riding Mountain National Park in western Manitoba and after three days of camping I have yet to smack a single mosquito; how nice is that?! I am keeping my fingers crossed that the sky conditions will work out for the eclipse on Aug. 21, more for my son than me. I’m old enough to remember the total solar eclipse that was visible across part of Manitoba back in 1979. If you are not planning to ever leave Manitoba, you and anyone in the next few generations, will never see a total eclipse. For those of you who wouldn’t mind travelling a little bit, or you are lucky enough to live in Alberta, then you only have to wait until 2044 to see an eclipse. That eclipse will be visible over much of Alberta and parts of southern Saskatchewan. Or, if you feel like travelling even farther, you could head to the East Coast in April 2024.

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Once again, there is not a lot of weather news coming out of the Prairies that we haven’t already covered. So, for this article, I figured we would take an early look at the fall and winter forecasts. Before we do that I thought we should look at the monthly global temperature data for July that was released last week.

July 2017, according to NASA, was the warmest July on record, which meant it was the warmest month ever recorded. NOAA (the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) registered this July as the second warmest in its database, coming in just behind last July. Globally, according to NOAA it was the third warmest July over the oceans and the warmest-ever July over land. For those of you who don’t trust these data sources, the average temperature of the lowest eight km of the Earth’s atmosphere, as measured by satellite and reported by the University of Alabama Huntsville, was the fourth warmest in its 37-year-long database. What has raised some eyebrows is the fact that it was a record- or near-record warm month with no El Niño taking place. In other words, there were no naturally occurring cycles or events that historically help to boost global temperatures in July, yet it was extremely warm.

Supermodels

OK, now on to our first look at the fall and winter forecasts. Since the almanacs have recently been advertising that their winter forecasts are ready, let’s start off with them. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac we will see near- to slightly below-average temperatures this fall, with near-average amounts of precipitation. Then things will get cold to start off winter with below-average temperatures in both November and December, along with near- to slightly above-average amounts of precipitation. Then the Old Farmer’s Almanac has the winter flipping around beginning in January, with above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation right through until spring.

Jumping over to the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, it appears to call for a colder- and wetter-than-average fall as it mentions unsettled and wet conditions several times along with cool or cold conditions. It even mentions the chance for wet snow and flurries in early October, which is not that unheard of, now that I think about it. Moving on to its winter forecas t, it calls for above-average temperatures along with near-average or “moderate” amounts of precipitation. That doesn’t sound too bad, at least for the winter part of its forecast. By the way, according to its website, part of its formula for long-range weather prediction uses the position of the moon. The logic is that since the moon influences the tides in a predictable way, the moon can also influence the atmosphere and should be predictable. Not too sure about this, but it is still fun to look at these forecasts.

The latest forecast out of NOAA calls for near-average temperatures over the central and eastern Prairies with slightly above-average temperatures over Alberta. Precipitation will be near average across all three Prairie provinces.

The U.S. Climate Forecast System (CFS) weather model predicts warmer-than-average temperatures right through to January across Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, with near-average temperatures over western Saskatchewan and Alberta. February is then forecast to be well below average over the northern and eastern Prairies, with the southwestern Prairies continuing to have near-average temperatures. As for precipitation, it calls for near- to slightly above-average amounts this fall, with near-average amounts over the winter. The CanSIPS weather model shows temperatures that will be above to well above average both this fall and winter along with near-average amounts of precipitation.

Environment Canada’s probabilistic forecast calls for above-average temperatures right across the Prairies this fall and into the early winter. Temperatures are then expected to transition toward more average values later in the winter. Its precipitation forecast calls for a drier-than-average fall across much of Alberta with near-average amounts elsewhere. All regions are forecasted to have near-average amounts of precipitation over the winter.

Finally, my kick at the forecast. With neutral ENSO (El Niño–Southern Oscillation) conditions expected across the Pacific this winter there is no strong driving force for our weather. This means the long-range forecast for this winter will be a tough one to figure out. So to be safe, at this point I will go with near-average temperatures and precipitation across all three Prairie provinces. Now we’ll just wait and see how much things change in a month or two.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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